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  • Writer's picturePippa


Yesterday in my beginners’ classroom, we listened to a song that I first heard 43 years ago when I was training to teach English as a Foreign Language. Present Continuous Baby by The Solid British Hat Band was purpose written to teach  the present continuous verb form. You know…I’m eating, he’s playing, we aren’t having fun…to talk about things that are happening around now. It has a catchy tune and I remember I liked it as soon as I heard it in 1981. It's always lurked in my bag of teaching tools but I was never able to use it until now despite having taught the present continuous on countless occasions. And I was curious as to how a much younger generation would react to the piece today.

Last week, I started experimenting with the AI feature that’s part of a design app I use to create graphic materials for English teaching. I found I could get the program to draw exactly what I wanted if I dictated the right set of instructions. Until now, if you wanted to illustrate song prompts you either had to be a really talented artist (I’m not.) or find exactly the right photograph to cut out of a magazine. Now I can "draw with words" because I'm good with those. And so, a technology that was the stuff of science-fiction novels all those years ago came to my rescue. I created a series of visuals to illustrate the story, the students understood exactly what was happening in the graphics I presented, they listened to the song (thank you You Tube)  for the language structures we were  revising and some of them were even tapping their feet and bobbing their heads.

What are you doing, Aziz?

I'm tapping my foot and bobbing my head.

Move over techno and electro! By the end of the class, two of the students had found the song on You Tube and saved it. Success!

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